The president of the NAACP’s Spokane, Wash., chapter has resigned as furor over her racial identity mounted, after her parents said she has falsely portrayed herself as Black for years even though she is actually white.
Rachel Dolezal resigned as president of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter on Monday just days after her parents said she is a white woman posing as Black.
The 37-year-old woman with a deeply tanned complexion and dark curly hair, graduated from historically Black Howard University, taught African studies at a local university and was married to a Black man. For years, Dolezal publicly described herself as Black and complained repeatedly of being the victim of racial hatred in the heavily white region.
A day after her resignation, Dolezal said in a television interview that she identifies herself as Black.
Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal of Troy, Mont., told reporters she has had no contact with her daughter in several years. She said Rachel began to “disguise herself” as Black after her parents adopted four Black children more than a decade ago.
Dolezal had to resign as president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP.
By lying about her racial identity she damaged her credibility as a leader and would hurt the organization if she stayed on as its leader.
The resignation comes after a swift fall for an activist credited with injecting remarkable new energy into the civil rights organization.
The irony is Dolezal did not need to be deceptive and portray herself as African American to fight for human and civil rights.
Late last week, the national NAACP stood by her, saying “one’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.”
In fact the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, was founded in 1909 by both whites and Blacks and has whites and other non-Blacks as active members.
By all accounts Dolezal has been widely credited with reinvigorating Spokane’s moribund NAACP chapter. Under her leadership, the chapter acquired an office, increased membership, improved finances and made other improvements.
Dolezal can continue her work as a civil rights activist but to be viewed as credible she must be honest and transparent. Integrity does matter.